Parting from your college dorm room? You’re sure going to miss your RA, twin-sized bed, shared bathroom, and cluttered closet. Said no one ever.
It’s finally time to move up to the big leagues: off campus housing! This means a whole new kind of freedom, and a lot more space. Being an upperclassman is gonna rock.
But since this is (probably) your first time getting your own place, let’s face it, you might make some rookie mistakes. Living off campus can be a schooling in itself, from choosing the right place to rethinking your budget, adjusting your meal plan, and getting your HO4 insurance in order.
So before you jump into planning your housewarming banger, here are a few things you’ll need to consider:
1. Choose your roommate wisely
When selecting your roomie, remember there’s a difference between the perfect going-out buddy and an ideal roommate. You’ll want to make sure they’re clean, trustworthy, and compatible with you.
Discuss everything with them upfront before making a decision, from study habits (music or silence?), to schedules (morning person or night owl?), and leisure activities (do they cook? Smoke? Party?). These are things you’ll want to know before, not after.
2. Research each apartment you visit
Don’t simply settle on the first apartment you visit, or one that looks good in the pics. You’ll want to do your homework and know what to ask when renting an apartment: tour quite a few apartments, and chat with the people who’ve lived there in the past and their neighbors (extra bonus if they end up becoming yours!). Ask about the noise level, whether the building or appliances has had any issues, whether the landlord respects renters’ rights, etc.
P.S. Don’t forget to map out the distance from the apartment to class!
3. Check the safety of your new digs
Chances are, your dorm room came with some pretty snug security. Off campus housing? Not always the case.
To ensure your building is perfectly secure, here are a few things to double check:
1. See if your building requires a key to get onto the first floor, and another to get into the apartment.
2. Be sure the windows lock properly.
3. For an extra layer of protection, try not to live on the first floor. You’ll thank yourself later.
4. Get renters insurance
Once you choose a new place, you’re set and ready to move, right? Almost. You’ll want to make sure your stuff in your shiny new apartment (ex: furniture, TV, laptop, phone, etc.) is insured, in case your laptop is stolen or your candle tips and catches your stuff afire. Yeah, renters insurance covers theft (most people don’t know that!), which happens way more than you think.
5. Create a new budget
Hate to break it to you, but moving out of your dorm can mean a whole bunch of new off campus living expenses. We’re talkin’ new furniture, weekly groceries, and refills on things like toilet paper – not to mention utilities (and they add up).
Because of this, you might have to revamp your budgeting efforts. It’s easier than it sounds, as long as you do it right. Here’s our guide to creating a healthy budget for your first apartment, which’ll help you offset cost of living off campus effortlessly.
6. Rethink your meal plan
Now that you’re living off campus, you probably aren’t enrolled in your full meal plan. But eating a few meals on campus might save you some spare cash (and time). We rec signing up for a 5 meal-per-week plan, so you can grab lunch on campus between classes.
Added bonus: Hangin’ in your dining hall will induce some good ol’ nostalgia for your freshman year days.
7. Grocery shop smart
Now that you’ve graduated from a mini fridge, and don’t have a janitor changing out the toilet paper (you kinda miss that, right?), you’ll have to monitor your own supply. #Adulting.
Remember, things like hand soap, TP, paper towels, and tin foil go faster than you think, so buy ‘em in bulk to save $$ and avoid extra trips to the grocery store. This goes for food items too – get your cereal, frozen meat, etc. in bulk so you’ll always have food on hand.
8. Create foolproof systems with your roomie
With all the responsibilities that come with off campus housing, it can sometimes feel like added coursework. From grocery shopping to cleaning up the common areas, there’s a lot to handle. You’re gonna want to have a system in place with your roomie to handle these responsibilities to save both time and conflict.
Create a cleaning schedule (ex. you alternate weeks cleaning floors, counters, and bathrooms), and divide up the grocery responsibilities early.
Pro tip: Studies show that doing some extra favors for your roomie will even boost your roommate relationship.
9. Nail down a subletter, early
Unless you plan to spend your summer days strollin’ around campus (not a bad choice!), you’ll have to find a subletter to take over your apartment during the summer. This’ll help slash those off campus living expenses by saving you a few months rent. But chances are, tons of people on campus will be trying to do the same, so start looking a few months before.
Hang up flyers around campus, post in Facebook groups, and put an ad on Craigslist. Because the last thing you’ll want to worry about after finishing up your finals (!!!) is finding a subletter.
Let freedom ring!
Getting excited already? We don’t blame you. Living off campus has tons of perks (like being able to shower without flip flops), and you’ll be able to fully reap ’em once you embrace these new responsibilities. If you still don’t feel ready, spend a few minutes reading this guide with some additional information.
And once you’re all settled in, you’ll be all set to throw that housewarming banger and ring in yet another year of college fun, off campus style.